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Mud City is an online literary journal promoting the ideals and vision of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Low Residency MFA Program.

Abigail Chabitnoy


Abigail Chabitnoy is a poet of Unangan/Sugpiaq descent. She earned her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University and was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Pleiades, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Nat Brut, and Red Ink, and she has written reviews for Colorado Review, the Volta blog, and The Courier, a publication of the Wolverine Farm Press and Bookstore based in Fort Collins, CO, where she currently resides.

before there was a train

I built my home

from animal skins

and crooked bones


            far from the rotting boat

They took

                           the wrong shape


Sod      not ice   not body


not Other




            Engluq nikiimek patumauq


The wrong tongue


By the time you read this

I will have forgotten how to say

            the house is covered with sod


                                                or home


Part of me wishes it had sunk

                                                it sank

                                                            it is sinking


but these sentences have not been written


Only, allrani suu’ut caqainek pukugtaartut





                                                                                                                       sometimes people salvage some stuff


fox hunting i


      Last winter I [had a thought, go out], ii        hunt foxes.


                                                                 , and, having come

to the opening of a little hut          , I entered it

and apparently there was a fox there           I didn’t

see   , but when it was seen and pointed        to me

I could shoot

                                                                   I ran

                           , but running after it I

                                 finally lost my breath


                                                                  under a rock,

                                            pulled          from there

      ,           then I walked                          and walked

                                                      , and          seemed to

be a fox                            but        didn’t see   , but

      started to run again,                           shot   ,        so

I came back                                            two                           .


      After            I                                    went to sleep,

      the          day                                got up again


to hunt fox [.]               I passed



                                                           to the other side

      one fox

                                                                    up the hill

                                    thinking how                    I was


                                            a piece

                     daylight                                                     the hill



                                                               the isthmus,

                             the north side,

a storm




                                                     the sea,

                                   the canyon




                       a fire                   a little cave


the night


                  until the morning,

      the wind




                                            a pit in the snow

slept in       until the morning,                   daylight










                             and                                    steam

                                                           and went home 




i Told by Stepan Prokopyev, Attu, August, 1909. Cylinders 25 and 26 (four minutes and forty-five seconds). Transcribed and translated into Eastern Aleut by Jochelson and Yachmenev with the help of Stepan Prokopyev, Umnak, 1910. Of the paired lines, the first is Attuan, the second Eastern Aleut. The written text differs in several spots from the cylinders. New York Public Library Manuscript 61.

ii Contamination (or copying mistake).

iii Some words missing.




With our homes we buried our children

with our hopes we buried them

that no one would find


Now there are no rooms for children

for burying


Michael go down the shore

you will find the fish

            the fish

that will make you home

                                                                                                  [Michael II who stayed in Alaska—

                                                                                                                     occupation: fisherman

                                                                                                       —killed a shark on Wood Island

                                                                                                      and brought it to Miss Hannah.]

Michael go down the shore

Reach with your arms in the water until you feel the body


Slide your hands into its non-lungs

and pull its head from the water



You are not the fish that swims in the maw

                                                                                               [Not many people consider the shark

                                                                                                                                                a fish.]

You are the maw

            the bridge many-teethed

and hungry


The way to the body

is through the body

            through blood

                                 to the heart—


Michael of-the-water


She gets her power from the water


She removed her ribs and

buried them

in a row

            , having dreamt she would lose them


She slept and dreamed

            in her dreams

            she couldn’t breathe


She couldn’t breathe

in her dreams

there was no air

She woke to find her chest

was sand


her ribs were



        her lungs fire


through the



Her body sand

was baking


She was baking in the sun

her body



                           in her belly      



        there was fire

She became hard


so she crawled to the sea and dipped her glass hands

in the water


In the water her hands became soft

and pliant


She dipped her body in the water


she pulled the water through her heart

                                     through her lungs

                                           into her belly

In the water she could move


           but above the water

she was hard and hot and could not



            above the water

She was a red mouth    a wound

spitting fire



                                                                                                                                                   must be reshaped—

                                                                                                                                                                   the body